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Georgia Charter School Students Are More Likely To Graduate High School, Enroll and Persist In College, Study Finds

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Attending a Georgia start-up charter high school increases the likelihood of graduation, and those students are more likely to enroll and persist in college, according to a recent study by Georgia State University’s Center for State and Local Finance.

Researchers Peter Bluestone and Nicholas Warner used Georgia’s Academic and Workforce Analysis and Research Data System, or GA AWARDS, information to analyze whether there is a causal relationship between attending a Georgia start-up charter high school and achieving critical academic milestones linked to future labor market success. The study, which follows more than 11,000 students from 2007-2016, was commissioned by the State Charter Schools Commission.

“As public schools of choice, charter schools must demonstrate increased student performance for increased flexibility. This research illustrates the value of the charter school model, showing that charter schools have a positive effect on students and their communities,” said Gregg Stevens, State Charter Schools Commission deputy director and general counsel.

The study compares two groups of students, all of whom attended a start-up charter school for eighth grade. The research matches similar students who attended a start-up charter high school with students who attended a traditional public high school and compares their attainment of academic milestones.

Comparing the two groups studied, the results show start-up charter high school students were:

  • 4 percentage points more likely than their counterparts to graduate from high school
  • 6 percentage points more likely to enroll in college
  • 8 percentage points more likely to persist in college for two consecutive semesters
  • 2 percentage points more likely to earn a college degree or certificate

“This research adds Georgia charter schools to a list of studied localities that previously included only Chicago, New York, Boston and Florida,” Bluestone said. “This makes the results more generalizable across charter schools nationally. Additionally, there is an earnings premium associated with reaching the various milestones we assessed, which will make a difference for larger numbers of Georgians as the cohorts of charter high school students grow.”

This report is the third in a series published by the Center for State and Local Finance and commissioned by the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia. The first report summarizes the academic literature on the impact of charter schools on academic achievement. The second report examines the economic impact of start-up charter schools on property values.

The Center for State and Local Finance is part of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State.

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